‘It is good for a person to have a high level of self-esteem.’ Critically discuss.
Self-esteem has captivated the interest of psychological researchers and the whole of society.
“This academic preoccupation is substantially matched by interest among the public at large, and not just among those people, doctors, teachers and social workers who might be expected to show a professional interest in the human psyche. In their everyday lives people routinely treat the notion of self-esteem as an intelligible basis for explaining their own difficulties or other’s failings.” (Emler 2001)
High self-esteem is seen as something that every individual should aspire to as much as the desire to be healthy or successful. High self-esteem is judged to be good for all.
This essay will consider what is self-esteem, examining the theories and empirical evidence in support thereof. Thereafter coming to a conclusion.
High self-esteem refers to the way in which individuals view their value and importance. By doing so they ensure that they are kept safe and healthy. They accept imperfections and are content with their achievements, feelings and self, and are comfortable ‘within their skin’. As such self-esteem involves assessment of good and bad things about the self. It is a widely held concept that individuals with high levels of self-esteem are thought to be psychologically happy and healthy (Branden 1994). As opposed to individuals suffering low self-esteem who are believed to be psychologically distressed and depressed (Tennen & Affleck 1993).
Having a high level of self-esteem purportedly allow individuals to deal more effectively with setbacks and negative attitudes. There are some negative consequences connected to high levels of self-esteem however most individuals appear to have happy and meaningful lives as opposed to individuals with low self-esteem who have negative views of themselves and everything surrounding them. Substantial evidence shows a relationship between self-esteem and depression, shyness, loneliness, and alienation. As such, self-esteem affects the quality of life although not adversely affecting career success, productivity, or objective outcome measures. On balance, most individuals would much prefer to have a high level of self-esteem. (Baumeister 1998).
“Self-esteem is the lived status of one’s competence
in dealing with the challenges of living in a worthy
way over time.” (Mruk 1999).
Mruk views self-esteem as a lived observable circumstance, that is full of energy, and ever changing. That there are certain elements to self-esteem, an interconnectedness between competence and worthiness, self-esteem is lived and intertwined on both cognitive and affective levels in that it acquires values and makes comparisons on the basis of them; there is an awareness of the results of these comparisons and feelings which impact on these conclusions in a personal and meaningful way (Mruk 1999).
It can be argued good self-esteem develops within the socialisation process. How individuals were treated as children by their parents/caregivers, whether they were given attention, love, respect, listened to, given good opportunities, praised, developed good friendships at school and how successful they were at sports and school work, are some examples of good self-esteem development. By contrast having low self-esteem makes an individual feel worthless, they lack confidence, feel undervalued, are unable to stand up for themselves, taken advantage of, lack assertiveness, leading to depression and sometimes, individuals with low self-esteem, enters into a mental state of believing that society is not good enough for them or that they are too different for society.
Some of the more popular theories of self-esteem are based on (Cooley 1902) notion of the...
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